Sunday, 11 March 2007

Newcastle Falcons v Saracens

Scene set-up: Friday night, Newcastle Falcons 20, Saracens 14 with seconds to go. Saracens require a converted try to win by a single point. (Memories of the Falcons match at Bristol a few weeks before where this actually happened in the time over 40 minutes when Bristol got a penalty try and the Falcons were robbed).

Falcons are in possession and the crowd are counting down in sync with the match clock; "five, four, three .... " a kick to touch; match over? Saracens take a quick line out, catching the Falcons out and break through to run under the posts from 80 yards. Horror of horrors, it's happened again and the falcons lose by a single point again (in "overtime"). Quite a few fans make their hurried exit even before the Saracen player has actually crossed the try line.

Wait ... the referee and touch judge are in conference. After a few moments discussion they take the play back to the line-out which is then replayed. A couple of heart stopping tackles later and the Saracens concede a penalty which is dispatched out of the ground and Newcastle are the victors.

The ruling was correct, of course, as Saracens had taken the quick line out with a different ball, procured immediately from a ball-boy. This is not allowed of course. The Saracen player showed some quickness of thought as he did not really have much choice with the clock so obviously running out. As the infringement took place in real match time, the referee has to continue play from that point which in essence gave Saracens a further play that they would not otherwise have had.

The main point of this long-winded explanation is to pay tribute to all the players who, in a situation of high drama and emotion, allowed the officials to decide on the issue without interference, pressure or re-course, and accepted (especially the Saracens' players) what was in reality the correct decision. Credit to all concerned.

No comments: